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Digital Fluencies 02: Algorithmic Racism

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 , 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Please join us for lunch on Wednesday, May 9th, from 12 pm-1:30 pm in the CTLR Lounge for the second meeting in our Digital Fluencies Series. Sign up below to receive link to PDFs of readings and so we know how much lunch to order.

Digital Fluencies 02: Algorithmic Racism

We increasingly live in an algorithmic society, our everyday lives shaped by interactions with Google searches, social media platforms, artificial intelligence software, and myriad devices and programs that rely on the execution of computational algorithms. Algorithms at once bake into their equations the assumptions and biases of their human makers and also take on lives of their own, for we now even have computational algorithms developing other algorithms. But what are algorithms, exactly? And how have they turned out to reinforce or extend larger structures of racism, oppression, injustice, and misrepresentation? How might we develop better critical understanding of the computational algorithm when it comes to race? And how might we harness the power of algorithms for better ends in scholarship, teaching, inclusivity, freedom, and citizenship in the contemporary world? These are big questions. We will explore them through a few readings as well as a case study. Faculty, students, and staff are all welcome to participate regardless of digital skills.


Safiya Umoja Noble, “Introduction: The Power of Algorithms,” in Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (New York: New York University Press, 2018), pdf provided after sign up

Navneet Alang, “Turns Out Algorithms Are Racist,” New Republic, 31 August 2017

Zeynep Tufekci, “YouTube, the Great Radicalizer,” New York Times, 10 March 2018

Virginia Eubanks, “The Digital Poorhouse,” Harper’s, January 2018


Zeynep Tufekci, “What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: Net Neutrality, Algorithmic Filtering and Ferguson,” The Message, 14 August 2014


Benjamin Schmidt, “Do Digital Humanists Need to Understand Algorithms?,” Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016

Benjamin Schmidt, “Why Digital Humanists don’t need to understand algorithms, but do need to understand transformations,” Sapping Attention, 20 July 2016

Yeshi Milner, “An Open Letter to Facebook from the Data for Black Lives Movement,” Medium, 4 April 2018

Li Zhou, “Is Your Software Racist,” Politico, 7 February 2018


Michael Kramer, “Algorithms For What? Thinking About Algorithmic Racism & How We Teach With/About Algorithms @ Digital Fluencies 02”

What Is the Digital Fluencies Series?

The Digital Fluencies Series investigates what it means to develop more critical facility and engagement with digital technologies. Meetings usually combine 1-3 readings (a link to materials will be provided when necessary) and a case study for hands-on exploration. Faculty, students, and staff at all levels are welcome to attend participate regardless of digital skills. Upcoming topics include: Bots, Data, Platforms, Archives, Gender in Code, Open Access, Podcasting, Remix, Publishing and Peer Review, Animation, Glitching and Deformance Tactics, Memes, Web Design, the Template, Data Visualization, GIS and Spatial Data/Thinking, and User Experience. Feel free as well to suggest a topic as well. Co-sponsored by DLA, CTLR, Davis Library, and DLINQ. Organized by Leanne Galletly, User Experience & Digital Scholarship Librarian, and Michael J. Kramer, Assistant Professor of the Practice, Digital History/Humanities and Associate Director of the Digital Liberal Arts Initiative.

Digital Fluences 02: Algorithmic Racism

Date: May 9, 2018

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Categories:
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DLA, CTLR, Library, & DLINQ


CTLR Lounge
Middlebury, 05753 + Google Map